Category Archives: Library

Just breathe

As part of our ongoing mission this term to let students know we care, we have been using some essential oils to help students relax today!

Aromatherapy has been around for a long time, for example in China and Egypt, where oil and incense have been used for up to 6000 years. A recent study by Lee Redstone, published by the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, has shown that essential oils can enhance mindfulness therapy by reducing stress and anxiety levels.

We hope that students felt the effects of our soothing blend of Lavender and Eucalyptus oil today – hopefully they had more luck smelling it than this statue from our collections would!


Gandharan sculpture fragment: Head of Buddha, 1st century, EU1343. See it here.

We will be popping up regularly next week during revision time and in the exam period following that. We have organised some very exciting events to help students relax, and also plan to celebrate a certain someone’s very special 400th birthday, so keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter! Also look out for our table in the Main Library Foyer, which will have aromatherapy as well as mindfulness activities for students to try!

Remember, your library loves you!

An apple a day …

To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.


This week we have been thinking about how students can stay healthy during high-stress study periods. Most people opt for comfort food when they are stressed, something we catered for last week by handing out chocolate. While a little chocolate is fine occasionally, it is not the best thing to eat while studying!


That’s why we have been handing out some healthier snacks this week. Healthy sugars, such as those found in fruit and vegetables, and protein provide more long-lasting energy and are much better for our brains.

healthy snacks3

We were handing out some dried fruit and nuts, which are great options for study snacks, but here are some other food ideas from the BBC for boosting brain power:

  1. Fish, such as salmon and tuna
  2. Pumpkin seeds
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Broccoli
  5. Peanut butter
  6. Blueberries and blackcurrants

Other types of fresh fruit, like those in this still life from our collections, are good options too:


Fruit (Still Life) by Penelope Beaton. © The University of Edinburgh. Find it here.

Take care of yourself this week! Remember, your library loves you! 


All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

Lucy Van Pelt (in Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz)

 Today we continued our campaign to spread Library Love by handing out Easter Eggs in the Main Library Foyer.


Many students are currently facing a lot of deadlines, so we want to show them that the Library cares about them with this popular comfort food! These statistics suggest that the people in the UK ate more chocolate than anywhere else in the world in 2011, with each person consuming 11kg on average!

While chocolate is alright occasionally, we will also be handing out some healthier, brain-boosting snacks to help students focus in the next few weeks, in the lead-up to exams. We are getting inspiration from things such as this great dessert recipe from the Lothian Health Services Archive:


Invalid fruit tart recipe, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh School of Dietetics, c.1950. (LHSA Ref: LHB1/89/4/1). Find it here.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about our brain-boosting snacks, and other ways we are encouraging students to relax! Have a great Easter break!

A little nonsense now and then

A little nonsense now and then

is cherished by the wisest men

Roald Dahl

Games and puzzles are a really great way to relax and train your brain, and have been for centuries, as you can see in this painting from our collections:


 Eitaku Kobayashi, Children’s Games, 1894. RB.FF.63. © The University of Edinburgh.

Today we have been handing out these puzzles in the Foyer of the Main Library! Why not take a break and try it? Find all the library-related words (words can be written forwards or backwards, placed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), then take the first twelve un-used letters to uncover a hidden hashtag. Remember to tweet or facebook us when you find it!


Good luck!

Women and fiction

“Women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems.”
– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2016, and to remind students that the Library has more than just textbooks, we compiled a list of some books written by women in the Main Library:

  • Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, PS1017.L5 Alc.
  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, PR9199.3.A8 Atw.
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, PR4034.P7 Aus.
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, PR4167 Bro.
  • Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, PR4172.W7 Bro.
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, PR6005.H66 Chr.
  • Louise Erdrich, The Round House, PS3555.R42 Erd.
  • Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary, PR6056.I4588 Fie.
  • Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees, PS3611.I44 Kid.
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, PS3562.E353 Lee.
  • Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife, PS3564.I362 Nif.
  • Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, PS3566.L27 Pla.
  • Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire, PS3568.I265 Ric.
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, PR5397.F7 She.
  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help, PS3619.T636 Sto.
  • Alice Walker, The Colour Purple, PS3573.A425 Wal.
  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s OwnPR6045.O72 Woo.

Today we were in the Foyer of the Main Library asking students to vote on their favourite one! It was a close race, but in the end the winner was Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre! Other popular titles were Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein!


Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (#happylibrary) if you have comments on the winners or suggestions of other titles! And why not borrow one of these books this week! Remember, it only takes six minutes of quiet reading to relax you.

We will leave you this week with another image from our collections, this time of Scottish writer Joanna Baillie, who was greatly admired by Sir Walter Scott for her poems and plays:


Steel engraved portrait of Joanna Baillie by H. Robinson after a painting by Masquerier. 1876-1877. Corson P.2021. Image can be accessed here.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Popping up again

For the last few weeks, we have been running small events, designed to help students relax, in the Main Library Foyer. This article suggests that as little as six minutes of quiet reading is enough to reduce stress by two thirds!

In an image from our collections, a young Walter Scott enjoys this type of relaxation:

walter scott reading

Facsimile of a portrait of Sir Walter Scott as a child reading in a garden, by W. Matthews, in Walter Scott’s Introduction to Percy’s Reliques, 1915 (Corson P.3448).

While lots of quiet reading goes on in this library, it is usually not very relaxing. That is why we have been trying to branch out to students with short six-minute distractions (other than reading) so that they can be more effective, and feel happier, while they are in the Library.

Today we popped up in the Library Foyer handing out bubble wrap for students to pop. This simple activity provides a chance to de-stress, without taking a long time. We had some fun popping as well:


If you missed out, never fear; you can pop bubble wrap online here! So satisfying!

As twentieth-century journalist Sydney J. Harris said, “the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” So, take some time to relax today and keep an eye out for our next fun pop up activity.

Where there is tea, there is hope

Everyone uses different things to relax. For around two hundred years, a popular way to take a break has been to have a cup of tea. In fact, this website suggests that people in Britain drink about 165 million cups of tea a day!

Today we were contributing to that staggering number by handing out teabags to students. We had a variety of relaxing blends to choose from:


While hot drinks and books definitely don’t mix, we hope that our Takeaway Teabags reminded students to take a break and let them know that their library cares about them! Maybe they could enjoy the rare winter sunshine today by having a little tea party, like the McKendricks are doing in this image from our collections:


Tea Party with McKendricks, © The University of Edinburgh, 

We will be popping up in the Main Library Foyer with another popular relaxation activity next week, so if you don’t like tea (or you just like bubble wrap!), keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter!

100 Great Ideas

We’re always thinking of ways to improve the library, and today we’ve been asking for your ideas.  As part of Innovative Learning Week, we’ve been in the foyer today trying to get 100 ideas for what could make this space better.

We even made a little Lego model of the foyer – do you recognise it?


We want to hear any ideas that you have, and some of them have been a little bit crazy!  Anyone fancy a slide from the first floor down to the ground?  Or maybe a Library yurt?


There have been lots of great suggestions though, how about some library beanbags?  Or some thought provoking challenges to get your brain working as you come in to the Library before you have to study?


There is still time to contribute your ideas, either visit the library today, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you’d like to see here!


All you need is library love

As Valentine’s Day approaches this weekend, we want to let all students know that their library loves them!

We were down in the Library Foyer today handing out origami hearts that we made this week, and inviting students to give it a go:


Origami is a great way to take a break from studying, and it only takes six minutes of quiet activity to relax you. The hearts are so easy that you could make a couple in that time! You can find the instructions for the bigger hearts here, and the little bookmark hearts here.

These students all had a great time doing it!

collage for blog

If you do make a heart, take a photo and show us on Facebook or Twitter! Make sure to follow us as well, because we will be posting about more fun events in the Library Foyer in the coming weeks! Library love is all around!


Mockingbirds and Cuckoos

The library’s most borrowed books are all textbooks. Of course it is important that our library acts as a resource, but what can it offer you after you have completed your reading from Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine? Certainly, we have more than textbooks here!

We compiled a list of some novels and autobiographies that the library holds. From Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl to Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this list is full of great, thought-provoking reads:

  • Junot Diaz, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (PS3554.I259 Dia.)
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated (PS3606.O38 Foe.)
  • Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (DS135.N6 Fra.)
  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (PS3558.E476 Hel. )
  • Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (PS3561.E667 Kes. )
  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (PG5039.21.U6 Kun.)
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (PS3562.E353 Lee. )
  • Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (DT1949.M35 Man.)
  • George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London (PR6029.R8 Orw.)
  • Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture (QA76.2.P38 Pau.)
  • J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (PS3537.A426 Sal.)
  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help (PS3619.T636 Sto.)

We were in the foyer of the Main Library today asking students which book on the list they found most inspiring. To Kill a Mockingbird was the clear winner, while One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Catch-22 were tied for second place, closely followed by The Catcher in the Rye.

Do you agree? Tell us which of these books you find most inspiring! Haven’t read them? It only takes six minutes of quiet reading to relax you, so borrow one from the library and start today! You never know what might come from it.